Whitney studied at the Kansas City Art Institute and received a B.F.A. before moving in New York in 1968. He went on to attend Yale School of Art, where he received an M.F.A. in 1972.
Whitney had a difficult time distinguishing himself during the 1970s and 1980s when painting abstractions was widely considered out of style. Later, he had a number of solo exhibitions and has also been included in many prominent group shows.
In 2015, he was the subject of the solo exhibition “Stanley Whitney: Dance the Orange,” which was held at the Studio Museum in Harlem.
Whitney is currently Professor emeritus of painting and drawing at Tyler School of Art, Temple University. He lives and works in New York, NY and Parma, Italy.
His wife is the painter Marina Adams.